New renewable energy player aims high

10 April 2012

Private energy company Cennergi aims to produce a massive 16 GW of renewable energy generation capacity projects in southern Africa by 2025, its founders said at the company’s official launch in Johannesburg last week.

A joint venture between South Africa’s mining group Exxaro and India’s largest private power utility Tata Power, Cennergi already runs five renewable energy projects in the Northern Cape, Limpopo, Eastern and Western Cape provinces.

The new 50:50 partnership will particularly be targeting the expanding energy markets in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, with a focus on the investigation, development, ownership, operation, maintenance, acquisition and management of power generation projects.

SA’s renewable energy procurement programme

Cennergi CEO Thomas Garner told guests at Wednesday’s launch that the company had submitted solar and wind bids for the second bidding round under South Africa’s renewable energy Independent Power Producer (IPP) procurement programme, which closed on 5 March.

Exxaro head Sipho Nkosi said Cennergi would be looking at partnering with South African state power company Eskom.

He said the idea by Exxaro, one of South Africa’s leading coal producers and Eskom’s number one supplier, to venture into energy had been in the pipeline for the past two years.

“We felt that as coal producers in South Africa, we should start immersing ourselves in renewable energies, because we need to continue to be responsible corporate citizens in South Africa,” Nkosi said. “The whole continent of Africa is well endowed with renewable energy and … these are the organisations that can harness these opportunities.”

Energy needs ‘call for more than one player’

Tata Power MD Anil Sardana said the demand for energy in southern Africa necessitated that there should be more than one player in the sector. Given that, arduous challenges in meeting the continent’s energy needs remained.

“Therefore, it’s important for people to bring all the inputs together, not just to contribute to the space, but do it effectively,” Sardana said, adding that Tata Power currently served more than 1.7-million customers in Delhi and Mumbai.

South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan for the energy sector envisages 3 725 MW of renewable energy being added to the country’s power mix over the coming few years.

The Department of Energy’s Kevin Nassiep, who delivered a speech on behalf of Energy Minister Dipuo Peters, said projects such as Cennergi were “poised to accelerate the development of our electricity sector, and will propel our green energy revolution to a new level.”

He said it was no coincidence that South Africa was moving with speed to “green” its economy, considering that the country had just introduced a New Growth Path that sought to deliver five-million new jobs by 2020.

The Industrial Policy Action Plan and the signing of a new local procurement accord last year bore testimony to the government’s seriousness about boosting industry investments in South Africa, Nassiep said.

Source: BuaNews